Late in 1966 NYC television station WPIX-TV gave the city's eight million residents a roaring log fire for Christmas. The seven-minute looping Yule Log video instantly became a holiday tradition around the world. Now, nearly a half century later, Brooklyn-based animation director and illustrator Daniel Savage had the idea to reinvent the celebrated icon of holiday spirit. "I was sitting at my friend Boy Brandon's house looking for the original, but it wasn't on Netflix yet, and YouTube had all these low quality ones," explains Savage. "So I thought, 'Wouldn't it be awesome to get a bunch of people to redo this?'" Which is exactly what happened: Savage enlisted 65 artists, illustrators, animators, directors and creative coders to create 53 unique new short films. With digital design agency Wondersauce behind the site design and construction, Yule Log 2.0 was born.
Starting with close friends in the NYC area and then reaching out to artists he admired but didn't know personally, Savage was able to get an incredible amount of talent across platforms to sign onto the project. "I tried to keep it very diverse. I didn't want all animators, or all illustrators. I wanted people who don't usually animate to animate, and encourage collaboration on individual films as well," says Savage of the curation process. "I didn't really know what to expect from everyone; I know it's a busy time of the year so I assumed they would be simple, but then some people blew my mind—like the marshmallow one [created by Michael Fuchs, Daniel Leyva, Bianca Meier]. Getting three people to work on one was amazing."
The individual shorts—which last anywhere from 10 seconds up to half a minute—can be viewed in individual loops or as a simple string. By watching one after another, the appeal of the project becomes more and more apparent. From fan-propelled paper and painted fingers waving in front of a camera, to full-on illustrated stories and perfectly abstract digital drawings, the project hosts more artistic approaches than one could imagine. Savage—who worked alongside Tricia Desjardins—for instance, created a short in the style of celebrated children's book illustrator Eric Carle, using "lots of paint" before scanning into Photoshop and bringing it to life in After Effects.
To share the spirit of the impressive venture, Savage and Wondersauce plan to host multiple public screenings in NYC, with locations yet to be announced. Check Yule Log 2.0 online for screening info as well as to watch the log fire creativity come to life.
Images courtesy of Daniel Savage